Plans to demolish Buchanan Galleries could spark UK trend

Plans to demolish Buchanan Galleries for a mixed-use city centre development could spark a major trend across the UK, a retail expert believes.

Plans to demolish Buchanan Galleries for a mixed-use city centre development could spark a major trend across the UK, a retail expert believes.

The ambitious plans involve turning the Glasgow city centre shopping mall into a mix of residential, hotel and retail space prompted partly by the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Leigh Sparks, of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies at the University of Stirling, believes it will be setting a precedent for other cities.

The Buchanan Galleries shopping centre in Buchanan Street, Glasgow

Owner Landsec wants to consult on its plans for the future of the centre and says the proposals are a response to the disruption facing retail, which has been accelerated by the pandemic, with a mix of hotels, restaurants, street-facing retail and housing.

Professor Sparks said: "Clearly, city centres and town centres as well are about far more than retail if they are going to be successful.

"Given changes in retail over the past 25 years - Amazon is 25 years old now and is no longer a start-up - then online shopping and the way people live their lives now means cities and towns need to keep up with the trends.

"Many of the shopping developments, and Buchanan Galleries is a good example, are about retail looking in on itself and you can see that in a lot of towns and cities across Scotland.

"It now seems more multiple or mixed-use developments that are more pleasing spaces and brings retail back to the street are to be favoured.

"Buchanan Galleries is a critical, major space in Glasgow and getting this right is going to be very important. I think we will see more of this idea across the country.

"People don't just come to Glasgow for retail but for its bars, culture, the feel and ambience of the place. That is what they are attracted to in terms of what Glasgow has to offer."

He said redevelopment of retail sites have worked in Edinburgh, where plans for the Jenners building in Princes Street would mean developing 10,000 square metres of disused rooms above the department store in the six- storey building into a hotel. A cafe will be created between the department store and the hotel.

The capital has also seen the Johnnie Walker Princes Street whisky visitor attraction open up in the former House of Fraser building in the centre of the city.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Retail Consortium head of policy, said: "We are now deep into the promised process of retail transformation as the industry adapts to the new multichannel world.

"Whilst that change provides challenges, there are also tremendous opportunities to deliver attractive retail propositions for customers who want the full physical shopping experience.

"With customers being more discerning and needing positive reasons to shop, it's heartening to see a focus on ensuring Glasgow retains its place as one of the county's most attractive shopping destinations."